There would be no point in going diving if the area in which you dived was an ecological mess. Why would you want to dive in an area where marine life was decimated, any coral was ripped up, and rubbish was floating around?
Brad Robertson, owner of one of our latest muchbetter members Ondine Escape, gives us his top tips for becoming a green diver.
I can only tell you my reasons for trying to be a green diver, give you a few tips and tell you a little about how I am attempting to inspire divers, and non divers, to be more aware and pro-active about conserving our marine ecosystems.In the end its up to you to decide how to be a green diver. With 20 years of recreational diving under my belt and 10 years working in the industry I have seen some absolutely devastating actions by both divers and dive operators around the world. Most of my time was spent working along the Great Barrier Reef where factory dive schools pump out tens of thousands of new divers each year. Most of the time these new divers have no chance of learning the right way to dive, to dive with awareness. Its not their fault a lot of the time, they are simply not informed. Yes, for sure its some of the instructors, but generally its caused by the operators who dont give their instructors a chance to instruct properly. Time is money!!! Vessels that can take 100, 200 even 300 people to visit the reef each day and there is a whole fleet of them.Un-maintained moorings that I have seen uproot coral structures that were as big as a small truck, makeshift moorings wrapped around coral bombies,live-aboard dive vessels dumping their sewage literally on the reef, and they are rated as eco tour operators!!
Like anyone who works in an industry for a long period of time you begin to see the dirty side and that dirty side of the dive industry is one of the reasons I think being a green diver is important. If we, as divers, continue to support the mass tourism based dive industry then we are actually the ones who are creating these problems, we are funding them. So number 1 piece of advice from an old diver is to do your homework on the dive operator you are thinking about diving with. Visit their website, check out the testimonials, they will only be good ones for sure, but you can see if there is any mention of ecology, sustainability, conservation or education from previous guests. Dont believe all you see, many eco certified operators unfortunately dont have an eco bone in their body. Look for operators that have functioning education programs, current conservation projects or are working with local scientists on research projects. This pro-action is a much better indicator of an eco business than a sticker from an organization that needs members to survive. Ask for advice from your local dive shop or friends, get online, there are loads of forums that discuss different aspects of the dive industry. You will, in the end, have a much better chance of making an educated decision about who you will support by visiting them and paying for their services.
Dive local, dive centers that are close to you mean less travelling, hence less of a carbon footprint. It also allows you to build up a relationship with your local dive center, be involved in local eco projects and if they dont have any eco projects, suggest they begin one. Offer to help with the groundwork to start a new monitoring program, get in touch with your local fisheries department and ask them about the general health of your local area. There might be something they need studied, the options are endless. If you dont think that your local area is worth diving, well in most cases I would say think again. This comes from my own experience of leaving the Great Barrier Reef to move to Mallorca diving in Mallorca.. huh!! not a chance, was what I thought. How wrong was I!!! This is why talking to locals in the know is so important, they know!!
If you are looking at purchasing equipment, buy some good quality dive gear, it will last you longer, save you money in the end and save manufacturers making you more. No good for them, but better for you and better for the environment. Just make sure you look after it, which brings me onto the next point fresh water.
Fresh water is a necessity to keep your dive equipment clean and in good working order, it is also a valuable resource we should be trying to limit our use of. Clean your equipment in a rinse tank as apposed to having a garden hose running for the whole time you are cleaning. If you collect rainwater at your place then use this to clean your gear, once used you can water your garden with it.
What about when you are in the water, well, if you were not one of the thousands of factory produced divers and you were told about the importance of good buoyancy and streamlining your equipment for conserving local dive sites then you already know. For those of you who charge through the water, gauges hanging out, buoyancy out of control then you really need to find a good quality dive shop to help you get back on track. Mastering your buoyancy is not only a human life saving exercise but it is also a marine life saving exercise. Whats the classic old dive saying? leave only bubbles not a path of destruction you and your fins have just created in the middle of a marine reserve.
Last tip but definitely not the least, is make people aware, spread the word of the wonderful eco-dive tour you just enjoyed, post it online, tell your friends. Help them continue their amazing work by sending them more divers.
These things are all very easy for me to say as I have experience behind me, and I am sure most experienced instructors would agree with what I have said. It’s for the new divers, the people who are just beginning this amazing journey of underwater discovery that really need to be careful with making decisions that are not so green. I say to all my students should they ever have a dive related question to please contact me and ask, its so important to get advice from experienced people, do your homework and keep your eyes open. Make your decisions with some background knowledge.
As for me and my projects, well this is about you becoming a green diver, youll see me around I am sure.
Hope this has helped you on your green diver journey, I am 100% sure there are more ways to become a green diver and would love to know your thoughts too.